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Instrument & Bow of the Month – July 2023

Giuseppe Sgarbi (1818-1905) A talented luthier who spent much of his life in the city of Modena, Italy, Giuseppe Sgarbi was perhaps one of the last true 19th century makers before “Modern” Italian violin making. Sgarbi’s work is renowned for being high in skill with fine workmanship – something he later taught his son, Antonio.

A unique yet traditional style

Much of Sgarbi’s work was classical in design and inspired by the Cremonese tradition, but he was not afraid to add his own personal flair. Many of his instruments would feature unique characteristics such as decorative designs, which added a vibrancy to his work. A highly accomplished Italian maker, Sgarbi’s violins, violas and cellos are highly sought after by musicians, collectors and investors today.

This viola is typical example of his refined work. Although just over 16”(40.8cm) back, this viola still has the punch of it’s C string tone.

I have actually been playing it for the last year myself! (Leading the viola section of the Windsor & Maidenhead Symphony Orchestra)

The last Sgarbi viola I had was sold to the Hungarian State Opera House Orchestra!

The viola comes with a recent certificate of Eric Blot.

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Louis Gillet viola bow, made Paris C1945/50

Gillet served his apprenticeship , as typical with most French makers of the time, in the city of Mirecourt. He eventually set up his own workshop in 1924. From 1934 he started working for and with Eugene Sartory until the masters death in 1946. Of course his work from this period and beyond is heavily influenced by Sartory and this bow is an example of this!

Stamped Sartory a Paris…twice (under the lapping as Sartory did) this bow was probably sold as an original. Yes, it’s that good! 72 grams strong, and still half the price of his master!

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